Slow-cooked beef ragu with pappardelle recipe

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This dish will not only make your house smell amazing, but the people who eat it will start to wonder out loud when you open your own restaurant.

No Yes. It's so good

This tender braised beef ragout is rustic but somehow sophisticated enough to have on a small trattoria, especially if you finish it with a generous tablespoon of soft butter while giving the pasta a final touch in the sauce. That's the secret to great restaurant food, after all: butter and plenty.

This recipe uses a slow cooker, but I also include the Instant Pot instructions below.

Start the sauce in a Dutch oven in the morning (the pot browns the meat better than a slow cooker) and let everything cook slowly while you are running errands. The meat will fall apart and tender, I promise. All you have to do is boil some pasta water and prepare to pass out.

What is ragout?

Unlike the popular tomato sauce jars that line supermarket shelves, a suitable ragout is a meat-based Italian sauce with only a small amount of tomato. Meat can be anything: beef, veal, lamb, pork, moose, or venison. Cook slowly over low heat with a mixture of carrots, garlic, celery, and onion. Wine and tomatoes are added to the mix, and everything is left to cook for hours until ready.

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Ragù alla Bolognese, also known as Bolognese sauce, is simply a variation of a traditional ragù and uses white wine and generally a lighter protein: chicken, beef, rabbit, or goose.

When I was learning to cook, this was one of the first things I did, inspired by one of my favorite Italian grandmothers, Marcella Hazan. I knew this classic dish would be perfect for a slow cooker. Eight hours hands-free, slow slow cook, here we go!

What type of meat can you use to make meat ragout?

In true Italian form, you don't need expensive ingredients to make a delicious meal. Cheap roasts and cuts of meat are the best candidates for this sauce. Beef steaks, lamb shoulder, pork shoulder, roasted chuck, even oxtail.

You can also make a ragout with ground meat, but I prefer to find a large piece of beef. I would not recommend using beef stew; the pieces were tender, but the meat remains in pieces even after cooking. The roast beef, on the other hand, practically falls apart.

Can you make slow cooker meat ragout in the instant pot?

I don't see any reason why you can't make this slow cooker bolognese in an electric pressure cooker.

  1. Follow the recipe instructions to cook the meat and onions / broth out of the slow cooker. Then put everything inside the pressure cooker. (You could probably brown the meat in Instant Pot as well, but I think the stove works better.)
  2. Once everything is in the instant pot, close the lid and set it to steak / stew mode, then set the timer for 40 minutes.
  3. When the cook time is over, leave the steam valve in natural release and wait for the steam to release on its own, about 10 minutes.
  4. Open the lid and remove the roast from a cutting board and mash with two forks.
  5. Return the meat to the sauce and allow the sauce to thicken, pressing the stir fry button if necessary to continue cooking.

What is the best pasta for Beef Ragu?

I appreciate the pappardelle because it is a lovely, wide, flat noodle that the sauce slips into, like a favorite sweater. If you can't find it fettuccine works fine too. Homemade cornmeal polenta or gnocchi would be wonderful with an Italian beef ragout, if you feel like it. If you're watching your carbs, try zucchini noodles or roasted sweet potatoes. If you're eating gluten-free, find your favorite brand of gluten-free pasta to make this dish.

Can You Freeze Slow Beef Ragu?

On its own, this slow stew sauce is absolutely perfect for freezing on busy nights when cooking is not an option. I stack small saucers of sauce in the freezer and take them out when I crave an Italian beef sauce made from scratch for dinner. Or just in case you decide to open that restaurant!

A beautiful and effortless recipe from Northern Italy, this Slow Cooked Beef Ragout with Pappardelle is warm and inviting after a long day at work. Beef, tomato, carrots, onions, and a hint of simmering red wine until it practically melts over the noodles – there's no better way to eat. Cuisine: Italian Preparation time: 10 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Cook: slow 4 hours Total time: 30 minutes Servings: 6 servings Calories: 710kcal

For the Veal Ragu:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil and more, as needed
  • 2 1/2 pounds roast beef cut in half if necessary to fit in the pot
  • Preferably kosher salt
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots (2 carrots)
  • 1 cup celery, finely diced (2 stalks)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup dry red wine as pinot noir or substitute broth
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon optional red pepper flakes
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried

At your service:

  • 1 pound of pappardelle
  • Parmesan cheese to serve, optional
  • Fresh basil or thyme to serve, optional
  • In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until it shines. Sprinkle the meat generously with salt on all sides. Add to the pot in a single layer and brown without stirring until a dark brown crust forms on one side, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Turn the meat over and continue browning on the second side until a dark crust forms. Remove from the pot and transfer to a slow cooker.
  • Shake the pot to make sure there are at least 2 tablespoons of oil and / or processed fat. If not, add 1-2 more tablespoons. Add onion, carrots, celery, and a pinch of salt, and scrape up the golden pieces from the bottom of the pot (also known as delicious flavor).
  • Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, broth, wine, tomato paste, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes (if used), and thyme. Bring to a boil and transfer to a slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 to 6 hours or LOW for 8 to 10 hours. Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems (if you used fresh sprigs). Shred the meat with two forks. Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm while preparing the pasta.

To serve:

  • Boil 4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Add pasta and cook according to package directions, about 3 to 4 minutes for fresh pappardelle or 6 to 8 minutes for dry. Stir occasionally to separate the noodles.
  • Remove 2 cups of pasta to cook water from the pot, then drain well. Add the drained pasta back to the pot. Add sauce and stir to coat, adding water to cook pasta as needed to make sauce the consistency you want (start with 1/4 cup if you want and see what you think).
  • Serve with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil or thyme if desired.


Calories :: 710kcal


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